The ambitious plan includes influencing the UK government to improve funeral support and regulate the industry.
This month QSA has started work on a new plan to tackle the scourge of funeral poverty – a problem which sees thousands of people every year forced into debt in order to cover the cost of a loved one’s funeral. According to SunLife’s latest research report on the cost of dying (external link) released this week, in 2022 19% (+2% from 2021) of families experienced “notable financial concerns when paying for a funeral”. This is not surprising given that the average cost of what SunLife defines as a “basic funeral” across the UK is very nearly £4,000 (the average cost has dropped slightly from a peak of £4,184 in 2020, but has still risen 116% since SunLife began tracking it in 2004).
QSA’s plan for tackling the root causes of funeral poverty will be led by Lindesay Mace, who heads up influencing work for Down to Earth, our longstanding funeral costs support service. The plan builds upon strategic work which Lindesay has led in recent years – for example providing detailed consultation input into the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) investigation of the funeral industry and subsequent Order on price transparency – and upon QSA’s previous Fair Funerals campaign (2014-2018) which helped to bring about the CMA’s investigation as well as facilitating many funeral directors to show clear pricing through our Fair Funerals pledge.
“Our clients’ stories always make me want to achieve more – more change... so that no one has to endure the double grief of bereavement and funeral poverty"
QSA's Lindesay MAce
The new plan for 2023-25 has the following three aims:
- influencing significant improvements in central government support for thousands of financially vulnerable people each year who are faced with organising a funeral;
- promoting moves towards funeral industry regulation;
- and improving access to public health funerals.
For each of these areas we have specific outcomes that we want to achieve, and detailed plans in place. We look forward to providing updates on this work over the next three years. At the same time we recognise that plans need to be flexible. As we have found fruitful in the past, QSA will continue to take an agile approach to our influencing work – meaning that we will be prepared to change plans in response to opportunities that emerge. As always, QSA’s strategic work on funeral poverty will be informed by the insights from our frontline casework.
QSA’s Lindesay Mace said: “Our clients’ stories always make me want to achieve more – more change for them and for other bereaved people, so that no one has to endure the double grief of bereavement and funeral poverty. I am excited about this next part of our journey and look forward to working with others in the sector, the industry and in government to bring about much needed change.”
QSA is grateful to the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust (external link) which is financially supporting this work over the next three years, 2023-25.